Is Disc Golf Good Exercise? 13 Reasons Disc Golf is a Workout

There are many times when I’d rather be out on the disc golf course than slogging through a workout in the gym. So, I wondered if disc golf could be considered good exercise.

Here are the top 13 reasons why I think that disc golf is good exercise, and also good for mental health too.

Here is Why Disc Golf is Good Exercise

Disc golf is good for exercise because it combines cardiovascular and bodyweight exercise. Playing disc golf includes walking for an extended time, while using your lower body, core, and upper body to throw the disc long distances. Disc golf can burn additional calories and even improve mental health.

man drinking water after exercise

What Type of Workout is Disc Golf?

Playing disc golf is going to benefit someone in more ways than one. Disc golf can be a full-body workout that combines dynamic type movements (think throwing the disc on a drive) and cardio for burning those extra calories.

Dynamic movements are lateral, linear, or rotational movements that recruit our muscles to move our body in a particular direction.

When throwing a disc in disc golf you’re loading the hips and engaging the lower body along with the core to generate force behind a long drive from the tee.

Walking a full 18-hole course can also be a pretty good cardio workout when the disc golf round is finished for the day.

How Many Calories Do You Burn Playing Disc Golf?

The number of calories that can be burned playing disc golf will vary based on several different factors.

Current weight, duration of play, age, and body composition can all factor into exactly how many calories are burned by playing disc golf.

So, how many calories does disc golf burn? An average person weighing 185 pounds and playing disc golf for 60 minutes will burn approximately 396 calories.

How did I find this out? Try this tool below to get your estimate for calories burned while playing disc golf. I chose golf as the activity.

The most accurate way to track the number of calories burned would be to incorporate a fitness tracker during your round. This can take into account heart rate, duration, and distance along with your stats like weight and age.

To use the calculator below, simply select golf from the drop-down menu and enter the rest of the information for the estimation of calories burned.

How Many Calories Does 18 Holes of Disc Golf Burn?

There is also a formula for calculating calories burned during exercise. This formula is the following:

Total calories burned = Minutes Exercised * (MET*3.5*weight in kg) / 200

MET stands for Metabolic Equivalent for Task (MET) and it’s measuring the energy the body uses for different activities. Hence, the drop-down menu on the calculator.

Assuming that each hole for an 18 hole course is 300 ft long, you can estimate that an 18-hole disc golf course is a minimum of 5,400 feet. This means that you’d be walking at a minimum of just over a mile per round of disc golf.

Of course, you won’t always just be walking a straight line the entire time. Chances are you’ll end up walking much more than 1 mile.

So, just accounting for walking you can calculate the calories burned by using this graph. The graph takes into account walking pace and weight.

Is Disc Golf a Good Way to Lose Weight?

Disc golf, as with any form of exercise that burns calories is a great way to lose weight. Weight loss when distilled down to its most basic premise, is burning more calories per day than you take in (food and drink).

One pound of fat is equal to roughly 3500 calories. That means that if you want to lose one pound per week, you’re going to have to burn 3500 more calories than you take in for the entire week.

It sounds like a lot, but when you break it down by day that’s only a calorie deficit of 500 per day. A can of soda can contain 300 calories. So, using disc golf to burn calories coupled with a healthy diet can help you to lose weight.

Check this calculator below, to figure out how many calories you should be eating per day.

Then, using the calorie burn calculator earlier in this post, you can figure out how much disc golf you’d need to play to start losing pounds of weight!

Total Daily Energy Expenditure

13 Health Benefits to Playing Disc Golf

There are both physical and mental benefits to playing disc golf that not only make it a good form of exercise but also make it great for your mental well-being too.

Below are the 13 total health benefits of playing disc golf that you might not have even considered.

1. Playing Disc Golf Can Be a Form of Cardio

Contrary to popular belief, cardio is any activity that increases the heart rate and breathing rate. As a result, cardio will improve every part of your cardiovascular systems like the heart, lungs, and circulatory system.

Keeping a steady pace when walking, staying on your feet, and moving frequently all help to keep your heart rate up.

2. Being Outdoors is Relaxing

There are plenty of scientific reasons why being outside and in nature is great for your physical and mental health. Here are just a few of the ways that just being outside helps to relax the body and mind:

  • Breathing fresh air can actually have a calming effect on the body.
  • Exercise can increase endorphin production.
  • You can turn off the technology
  • Vitamin D from sunlight can elevate your mood

3. Walking Can Boost Bone Density

Weight-bearing aerobic activity can make your bones stronger. The stress that is placed on the bones and joints when walking is enough that the bones must work harder than they normally would support the leg muscles.

If the disc golf course you’re playing is set in a scenic area with uneven terrain, you might compare the time spent walking similar to hiking.

Your body is going to respond to the extra stress load placed on the bones by building new cells in the bones, thus increasing bone density.

4. Reduce Stress

Disc golf is a sport best done in the outdoors. Many disc golf courses are tucked into parks or other natural outdoor environments.

If you’re playing disc golf, the act of just being outdoors can in and of itself reduce your overall stress levels.

Studies have even shown that a 90-minute walk in a natural environment helped to relieve people of negative thoughts, and even showed reduced levels of brain activity in an area of the brain that has been linked to mental illness.

It seems unlikely that just being outside can reduce stress levels, but being in a natural environment really can reduce your levels of cortisol (stress hormone), lower blood pressure, and lead to a lower pulse rate.

5. Boost Your Mood

It’s known that an aerobic type exercise can increase the production of endorphins in your body. Endorphins are known as a “feel good” chemical.

Endorphins are known to produce a positive feeling in the body and in turn boost your mood.

You don’t have to go for a jog and be riding a bike for aerobic exercise either. Walking the course while playing disc golf can be aerobic exercise.

Pair the endorphin hit from aerobic exercise with a solid game of disc golf and you can see your mood improve significantly.

6. Improves Sleep

Unless you’re playing all of your disc golf in the dark or only on cloudy days, you’ll most likely be subjected to plenty of natural sunlight. So, why is this good for sleep?

Sunlight itself helps the body to regulate natural melatonin production, which of course is a good thing when it comes to sleep.

So, the more sunlight, the better when it comes to improving your sleep. Which disc golf can provide plenty of opportunities to soak up some sun.

7. Burn Extra Calories

Cardio is a natural by-product of aerobic exercise and activity. Burning calories is a natural result of that cardio.

Every day your body burns calories to do simple activities like walking around, eating, standing, and sitting.

We eat to provide a sufficient number of calories to the body that can then be used as fuel to perform all these daily activities. But, adding in additional activity, like disc golf can increase the number of daily calories a person will burn.

Burn more calories per day than what you consume from food and viola. You’re losing weight.

8. Get More Vitamin D

Vitamin D is called the “sunshine vitamin” When the sun’s rays come into contact with our skin, vitamin D is created as a reaction from the UV rays.

Vitamin D is good for our bones and our muscles. So when you’re out playing disc golf a little sunshine can go a long way.

The best time of day to grab some sun on the disc golf course will be in the summer months between the hours of 11 AM and 2 PM according to this study.

However, it’s important to be careful when exposing skin to the sun’s UV rays. Heatstroke and sunburns are two ways that too much sun can be harmful to the body.

9. Social Interaction

Disc golf is by nature a social sport. You can certainly play alone, but it’s always more fun to play with a group.

Many places have clubs and groups for disc golf too. Since most disc golf courses are public there is usually always bound to be others out playing. It’s pretty easy to meet new people or even jump in with another group.

Social interaction is great for mental well-being and the shared experiences with others can act as a boost to your health.

10. Can Help Improve Balance

Balance is a big part of disc golf. Throwing from the teeing area or a lie on the fairway, balance is key. (See here on foot faults in disc golf for a good reason for more balance).

Throwing a disc involves a lot of technique and good form. A part of that technique is proper balance. As you learn the game and the correct techniques for throwing a disc, you’ll also be working on your balance.

This can mean strengthening connective tissues, ligaments, and supporting muscles that stabilize your joints.

11. Core Workout

Your core is essential to providing force behind your throws in disc golf. The core is engaged especially during what is called the “X step”.

This is a technique used by disc golf players when driving from the teeing area. The X step uses the core to pull the disc across the body and drive for distance and accuracy.

Driving for 18 holes is going to work all of the muscles that make up the core, like the obliques and abdominal areas.

12. Working the Lower Body

During a disc golf throw, most of the power you can generate behind the throw will come from your lower body. Most people mistakenly believe that this power comes from the arms or shoulders.

In reality, the legs are what drive the most power. You’ll use your quads and glutes to push off when going through your throwing motion.

Repeatedly throwing a disc while using your legs for power will strengthen those muscles.

13. Toning the Upper Body

While the main power for throwing a disc comes from the legs, the shoulder muscles will also see some exercise too. Each time you throw you’ll engage the shoulder muscles like the deltoids.

Disc golf is a great way to exercise using these upper body muscles.

Summary | Is Disc Golf Good Exercise?

Disc golf is much more active than most people realize. Golf to most people can seem like a passive activity.

But, when you take into account the physical motions needed to throw the disc with force combined with walking the course it’s easy to see that disc golf is good exercise.


Hi, my name is Marty. Sporting Disc is dedicated to delivering actionable tips and information when it comes to enjoying any disc sport. Whether it's disc golf, ultimate frisbee, or any other disc sport, I want to help anyone get out there and take their game further.

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